Guide To Dental Insurance in China
We get a lot of enquiries from about dental insurance for expats in China. Some enquiries are from Americans with pristine white gleaming teeth, and sometimes from Brits with wonky stained gnashers. So whether you keep your teeth in good condition, or not, and you’re concerned, having medical insurance which covers dental work can be very helpful.
Interestingly dental insurance doesn’t exist outside of the US as a standalone insurance plan. Most health insurance plans give you the option to either add dental coverage onto a health insurance plan or upgrade to a more comprehensive plan which includes dental coverage.
What Is Dental Insurance?
Dental insurance is a medical insurance plan which covers you for the cost of dental treatment. For insurance purposes, treatment is usually split into two to four categories: preventative care, minor dental treatment, major dental treatment and orthodontics. Reimbursement ratios, copayments and waiting periods often vary between these types of dental treatment.
Preventative dental care
This refers to polishing, scaling and cleaning. Whitening is usually excluded from most dental insurance coverage.
Minor Dental Treatment
Minor dental treatment usually refers to the treatment of cavities, root canals and dental prescription drugs.
Major Dental Treatment
Major dental treatment usually refers to dental surgery or dental prostheses including crowns, inlays, onlays, bridges and dentures.
How Much Does Medical Insurance With Dental Cost?
It depends on a lot of factors, such as if the dental plan is an optional add-on or built into the medical insurance plan. If it’s an optional add on then the cost can be between CNY 3,000 per annum and CNY 8,000 depending on coverage level, area of cover and age.
What Are The Cheapest Plans Which Cover Dental?
There are two plans which are probably the cheapest which include dental insurance. One is the ICBC AXA Comprehensive Plan which has built-in dental coverage. If you choose their Mainland China cover option then this is very cost effective. The other option which is usually even cheaper, however, provides less overall medical coverage would be the Allianz Care Core Plan with Prime Dental Plan added on. Allianz is the only insurer to allow you to add a dental plan to an inpatient only plan, resulting in overall reduced costs for dental coverage.
For more information on popular and cost effective insurance options check out our Guide to The Most Popular Expat Health Insurance Plans in China
Dental Coverage Without Waiting Periods
Most dental insurance plans have waiting periods. The length of the waiting period usually depends on the type of treatment. In general accidental damage to natural teeth don’t attract a waiting period.
There are a few medical insurance companies whose health insurance plans do not have dental waiting periods, including Allianz Care, Bupa, Cigna, AXA Tianping and MSH.
Do Carries / Fillings / Cavities Count as a Pre-existing Conditions?
The short answer is, it depends on which plan you’re looking at. Some insurance companies don’t actually ask any dental related questions on their application forms, and as such, cavities and other dental issues are not classified as pre-existing conditions on those plans. Some insurers do ask dental questions. Allianz for example has a lengthy dental questionnaire and will exclude any dental conditions flagged in the questionnaire. Whilst other insurers, such as Bupa, do ask questions but then proceed to include most pre-existing dental conditions anyway.
The Importance of a Reputable Dentist in China
Having a reputable dentist is essential if you’re planning on getting any dental work done. We had a client who previously had various dental work done at a low-cost dental clinic in Shanghai. His new medical insurance plan covered dental treatment at higher cost international dental clinics. After visiting an international dental clinic the dentist was shocked to discover embedded within in his teeth were two broken drill bits, one in one tooth, and the other had shattered into multiple shards within another tooth. The client was none the wiser before this visit. This is the shocking result of using a low-cost dental clinic using substandard equipment.
Many local dental clinics are great and cost-effective. However, as an expat, finding a reputable dentist can be tricky. A reliable method is to use international dental clinics aimed at various expat communities. This costs more but gives you peace of mind.
Braces & Orthodontics For Teenagers in China
Like any other country, braces and corrective orthodontic treatment in China are as expensive as anywhere else. For example, the clear aligners (Invisalign) usually costs a total of over CNY 40,000. Ordinary metal braces cost much less.
So can your dental insurance plan cover the cost of corrective orthodontic treatment and reduce your financial burden? The short answer is, no, unless you have a Bupa plan with dental coverage. Bupa is the only medical insurance company whose dental coverage includes corrective orthodontic treatment, however, there is a 12 month waiting period before you can use the benefit.
Where Can You Get Good Dental Treatment?
We don’t recommend medical facilities. Having said that I can tell you about my personal experience and some of the feedback we receive from clients.
I went to Kowa Dental in Lujiazui, Shanghai, to get a chipped tooth fixed and have a basic cleaning and scraping done. The facility was very clean and the total cost of my treatment was CNY 1,500. I think that’s pretty reasonable considering the prices at some other facilities.
We’ve had very positive feedback from multiple clients at the dental clinic in GHC, Pure Smile and Jiahui Medical.